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The Dangers of Considering Latinos as One Single Group

By Cliff Despres

Significant differences in heart disease death rates exist among the three largest U.S. Latino subgroups, suggesting that combining these groups could endanger health for all Latinos, according to new data, Healio reports.

HeartacheThe heart disease study examined death data for U.S. Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans and found that:

  • Mexicans and Puerto Ricans died of heart disease at younger ages (67 and 68, respectively) than Cubans (77). More Mexicans (19.5%) and Puerto Ricans (16.4%) died at a young age (25-49 years) than Cubans (5.3%) and non-Hispanic whites (6.6%).
  • Heart disease caused a higher portion of deaths among Cubans.
  • Puerto Ricans had the highest rates of death from ischemic heart disease.
  • Mexicans had the highest rates of death from cerebrovascular disease.

“The current aggregation of these diverse Hispanic subgroups in mortality reporting has led to an incomplete understanding of specific health risks and outcomes in each unique subgroup,” wrote study leader Dr. Fatima Rodriguez of Stanford University in the journal JAMA Cardiology, according to Healio.

The researchers cite the need to understand the varying “immigration histories, socioeconomic status, culture, lifestyles and risk factors” among these three groups.

“While the underlying causes for such variations have yet to be fully ascertained, the implication is clear: There is a pressing need both for further research that includes diverse Hispanic/Latino persons and for interventions to address the burden of [cardiovascular disease] risk through timely public health strategies promoting nutritional and other healthy lifestyles tailored to the diverse backgrounds of the heterogeneous population and culture,” said Dr. Martha L. Daviglus of the University of Illinois, Chicago, in an accompanying editorial.


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